By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has gone on leave starting October 8, to ponder whether he will run for the Senate in the upcoming elections or accept another post in the Duterte administration.
In a report by ABS-CBN News Roque disclosed that he will be on a personal trip starting October 10 and would not join President Duterte in his trip to Bali to attend the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
He noted that he will not be holding press briefings but can still take questions from the media.
President Duterte has asked Roque October 4 to ditch his Senate bid and instead stay in his administration with a different position offered.
“We had a command conference where the President asked me to stay and offered me a position which currently does not exist yet. While there was no categorical agreement on what to do, I did say I would consider it and I wanted the weekend to think it over,” Roque said according to Rappler.
In another interview with ANC’s Headstart, Palace Communications Sec. Martin Andanar confirmed Roque was offered the job of Press Secretary if he decides to stay in the government.
“I am willing to take the sacrifice because we are trying to convince Harry not to run anymore by 2019. We need him in the communications arm,” Andanar said.
Andanar said the current Presidential Communications Operations Office would soon revert to the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).
In an interview with DZMM radio early Saturday morning, Andanar said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has been offered the post of Press Secretary.
“Office of the Press Secretary ‘yun ang inaalok kay Harry Roque. Importante kasi si Harry Roque sa communications,” Andanar said.
‘Roque won’t win in 2019 polls’
In a speech before the Philippine Military Academy alumni in Malacañang last Thursday, Duterte said Roque would likely lose in the senatorial elections because the military supposedly did not support him.
“Ayan sila si Roque, gusto mag-senador. Sabi ko, ‘Tama ka na. T*** i** diyan. Standby ka. Bigyan kita ibang trabaho. Hindi ka manalo diyan.’ ‘Bakit?’ ‘Ah ‘yung mga sundalo ayaw sa iyo,’” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, time is ticking for Roque to make a decision as the filing of certificates of candidacy will begin next week.
But when asked if he was resigning as spokesman on October 5, Roque said he would make a decision on October 8, only to announce his leave and that he would ponder on his options.
Roque had been previously endorsed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio’s regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) where he had joined various events across the country.
Kept ‘in the dark’
In the same briefing, Roque lamented he was left “in the dark” about the President’s hospital visit last October 3, saying it appeared as if he lied about the President’s visit since he was “adamant” to reporters on October 4, that Duterte only took a “day off.”
“In my decision on whether not to run, to accept whatever the Office of the President may have, I will consider the fact that in this capacity as spokesperson, I must know everything about the President,” Roque said according to ABS-CBN News.
“I cannot be effective as a spokesman unless I know everything about the President. Now people think I lied,” Roque added.